Don't Underestimate the Consequences of Being Served With a PFA Order

Posted by Joseph Lento | Apr 19, 2024 | 0 Comments

A notice that you're being evicted. Unexpected divorce papers. Documentation informing you that your wages will be garnished. Civil complaints. Summonses. Subpoenas. If you've ever received one of these, you're familiar with that awful, sinking feeling that you get when someone knocks on your door and hands you a sheaf of paper. 

Another unwelcome court order is a Protection from Abuse order. Also known as a PFA order or simply a PFA, a Protection from Abuse order has the potential to radically alter—some would even say "ruin"—your life. 

Are you in urgent need of legal help after receiving notice that you're named in a PFA? The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help. Get started by calling 888.535.3686 or by filling out this contact form.   

First Things First—Understanding a PFA 

One thing to know about a PFA order is that its name is something of a misnomer. This court-issued writ could be better titled "Protection From Communication" because that's exactly what it provides to the abused or allegedly abused party (the plaintiff). A PFA stipulates that the alleged defendant is prohibited from making any kind of contact whatsoever with the plaintiff. This includes (but is not limited to) communication by: 

  • Telephone 
  • Text messaging 
  • Messaging apps of any type, e.g., Facebook Messenger or Slack 
  • Social media sites, such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or X 
  • Sending a physical letter or any other material via USPS 
  • Asking a mutual friend to pass on a message 
  • A deliberate in-person encounter, whether the defendant approaches the plaintiff's home, office, or other location, they are known to frequent or take steps to "run into" the victim at a public event or in a public space 

In short, there is no legal way for a PFA holder to contact the person who petitioned for the order.  

The Legal Consequences 

Another very important aspect of PFAs is that while they are civil in nature—having been initiated by an individual, not by the courts—violating a PFA can result in criminal charges. These could mean punishment of up to six months in jail and/or a $1000 fine—at minimum. 

After receiving a PFA, you will be obliged to attend a hearing. During this hearing, a judge will determine whether the order should be temporary or permanent. It also represents the only opportunity you'll have to go before a judge to explain your innocence or provide evidence.  

This hearing is not unlike a trial. It's in your best interest to be as prepared as possible going into court. The most important step, bar none, is having an attorney by your side

Just because you've been served with a civil notice doesn't mean you won't also face criminal charges stemming from whatever incident was the impetus of this entire situation. Depending on what transpired, that could mean domestic battery charges or a whole host of others. 

The "Civil" Consequences 

Setting aside the possibility of being criminally charged, convicted, and incarcerated for a moment, you must also understand the collateral damage a PFA order can do. That includes but isn't limited to: 

  • Losing your home if you cohabitate with the accuser 
  • Being required to move, if you live separately, to be in compliance with your PFA 
  • Losing your job, if you and your accuser work at the same place 
  • Having difficulty finding a new job 
  • Child custody and visitation rights 
  • Relinquishing any firearms you own 
  • Psychological issues stemming from anger, shame, regret, or grief 
  • Experiencing a decline in your physical health and well-being 
  • Becoming persona non grata with a ruined reputation 

How to Mount A Strong Defense After Being Served A PFA Order 

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team understands how devastating it can feel to receive a PFA. As a result, they're dedicated to making sure their clients get all the due process to which they're entitled under Pennsylvania law, no matter what circumstances prompted the complaint and consequent court order. 

Contact them to discuss your case—and to come up with a plan for the best possible outcome. Call 888.535.3686 or click here

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact a skilled Family Law Team Today!

The LLF Law Firm has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.